This year has been like the Great Begonia Awakening for The Garden Guy. First it was this year’s debut of Surefire Cherry Cordial begonia. Holy wow, it has been almost like a shrub and has persevered planted in the ground even though it is in direct assault from Tootie the bichon's daily chase of the chipmunks.
Surefire Cherry Cordial begonias can take sun, and will reach up to 2 feet tall with an equal spread. They have won Top Performer Awards in over a dozen university locations from Florida to Minnesota and Oregon to Michigan.
Then I fell madly in love with the Solenia Rieger begonias. How in the world can they still be blooming in late September after the hottest, driest, most miserable summer in memory? I know you are thinking, you are still ticking, your Solenia begonias are still blooming, so life is good! You would be absolutely right.
All I have to do is walk out the back door and look at that glorious Solenia Apricot begonia with the rarest color in the world of gardening and I’ll admit to quickly falling in line to count my blessings instead of being a complainer.
At the risk of sounding like an old cereal commercial, I feel the same about the Solenia Yellow, a luscious lemon color, and the Solenia Chocolate Orange, all of which sport large rose-looking blossoms. Solenia begonias will reach about 12 inches tall with an equal spread.
But then, one more begonia is sure to being joy to your gardening world, and that is Double Delight Appleblossom. Botanically speaking it is a Begonia tuberhybrida. It brought out the cameras at Southern plant trials this summer.
Its sibling, Double Delight Rose Blush, has already proven the series ability to perform in the South as it won Top Performer in both Georgia and Mississippi.
Those of you in the South like The Garden Guy will relish that you can have a double-flowered pink, cream and white begonia like this in shadier or filtered light location. I am growing the Solenias in more sunlight. The further North, the more sun Double Delight begonias can take.
But what many of you may have never experienced is a begonia with a tantalizing fragrance. As I always hint that your nose may not know what my nose knows, I'll go with the description from Proven Winners. They call the aroma a sweet citrus fragrance.
Double Delight Appleblossom can reach 14 inches tall with a 24-inch spread.
I planted mine in hanging baskets partnered with a new Torenia called Catalina Pink. The colors to me are a purple pink with light pink and absolutely mesmerizing. Then in the baskets I also included Goldilocks Lysimachia or Creeping Jenny.
Both the Solenia and Double Delight begonias need really well-drained soil and limited overhead irrigation. They also offer gardeners the opportunity to dig the corms at the end of season, store and then plant in the spring.
If you have been assuming that begonias aren’t suitable for your garden, porch or patio, then you too are a candidate for a Great Begonia Awakening like The Garden Guy.
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)
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